Disclaimer: This is my opinion. And for the record, because the decision to keep or fire Rich Rodriguez is completely out of my hands, I no longer have an opinion on the subject. I trust the people in charge and will go with whatever decision they make. Unlike most of these other diaries, this has no statistics. They just aren't my thing. I warn you, this is long. It is basically my rationale for being rational. Take it for what it is worth... Thanks.
After the Ohio State beatdown, I was angry and wanted RR fired. Sunday I was too angry about the Wiki Leaks guy so I cooled down a little bit. On Monday, after seeing Denard Robinson win the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award, I've cooled down significantly and am looking at things more rationally, but not delusionally by any means.
Rich Rodriguez has done a terrible job coaching this team his first three years. When his WVU DC wasn't coming, he should have kept Ron English because he doesn't know shit about defense and/or the Big Ten. Ron English wasn't the greatest DC, but he was young, had energy and the respect of the kids that we had. RR should have adjusted his offense to Threet's talents, but he either didn't know how or was too stubborn. Then comes Tate, played well but he was a Freshman - what did you expect? Then Denard played flat out amazing but still he was a first year starter (Who won Big Ten OPOY). The defense? Can't honestly say Greg or Shafer are terrible coordinators or RR is a moron for forcing a system and staff upon them (or both). Either way, the entire coaching has failed when it comes to tackling. Every football player needs to know how to tackle with proper form. Offense on turnovers, special teams, and obviously defense. That is a fundamental. RR needs to give up on his defense philosophy and fire his friend Tony Gibson. On special teams, the kicking game is partly RR's fault, but Gibbons was a bust. Hagerup is great. Poor tackling on returns - that is mostly on Tony Gibson and partly on the other coaches for not teaching this fundamental football move. I don't know if they break down special teams film to look at teams blocking schemes on special teams, but uh, it didn't look like it. The injuries in 2010 really hurt, especially on defense and in our run game. Red zone turnovers by a first year starter at QB really killed us in some of those games, too.
It's a real conundrum we are in. Fire him and somewhat start over with a new guy, although I think the transition wouldn't be as bad as 2008 with a coach that isn't as stubborn as RR. Or say that for the first time, we have a returning QB that has proved he is electric. A stable of great WRs and RBs, many who are upperclassmen. Solid OL. Solid incoming recruits. Defense returning from an injury plagued year with many young players that had on the job training and game experience that will have an entire new staff running their own that is actually effective in defending Big Ten offenses (that is a MUST if RR stays). If RR can't handle an autonomous defense, then he is not all in for Michigan and should be fired. You want to build the best program in America right? Then bring in the best Defensive Coordinator and Staff you can find and let them do it their way, the same way you do it with your offense.
I pity David Brandon for having to make this decision. It basically makes or breaks his legacy as an AD. (And could have an impact on his political future, who knows.) Fans, media and former players all calling for the coach's head. Does he succumb to their demands? Does he see what I stated above and say "One More Year?" If he gives him another year and we have great season in 2011, he is a genius. T shirts will be made, "Patience is a virtue? No - David Brandon is patience." If we flop, he is a chump with no credibility.
In 2008 when Rich Rodriguez was hired, there were people who didn't like him. 3-9? More people didn't like him. First NCAA violations in program history? More. 5-7? More. 7-5 with poundings by Big Ten's elite? Even more. And it's hard to argue against those people, it has not been pretty or fun by any means. And then there are the people who stood by the coach no matter what, because he was the Michigan coach. As long as they always pulled for Michigan to win, these groups are the same - just passionate Michigan fans with strong opinions. And today, there is a supposed divide amongst the Michigan faithful. FIRE HIM NOW and WAIT AND SEE. These groups are also one in the same - one views the glass half full, the other half empty. The WAIT AND SEE group is no doubt angry with the way this coach has mismanaged and poorly coached his way into a hole in the job of a lifetime and straight up dragged Michigan through the mud. With all the drama and losing the past couple years, they still ask for patience because they want to see where this thing goes when some stability is involved (minus the defensive coaches =)..) The FIRE HIM NOW group wants to...well..FIRE HIM NOW. And you can't really blame them for feeling this way after the past few seasons. At the same time, as much as they were saddened, angered and frustrated by watching the games we lost, they can't tell me that they weren't thrilled watching Denard Robinson go apeshit on Notre Dame or the defense coming through in 3OT against Illinois. I know you can argue that all the wins, yards and points came against lesser opponents, a back-up QB at ND and vs. UCONN, Bowling Green. You can argue that we played close games against bad teams. (We did, FCS UMASS 42-37 are you kidding me?) You can argue that we were not even close in any of our losses, and that most yards and points came in on clean-up duty defenses. Once again, you are probably right. You don't even have to argue about the defense. However, you can't argue against the fact that our offense has shown flashes of being unstoppable and that the defense was plagued by freak injuries that forced inexperienced players, young and old, to play in games they had no business seeing the field in. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you want the coach to stay for one more year, you should be able to support him and still agree that he has done a horrendous job thus far and excuses about the cupboard being bare aren't applicable anymore. You should demand he stays away from the defense. If you want him fired now, ask yourself this question. If you could turn the page and take a peek as to what 2011 holds for Michigan Football with Rich Rodriguez, would you be curious enough to take a look? If you would, then maybe your mind isn't as made up as you thought it was.
About five weeks ago, I took two polls after the loss to Penn State. The results were not too surprising, but I felt that it would be interesting to see what the board thinks after all of the ANGAR. Well there has been a large amount of ANGAR after the game on Saturday, so I conducted another poll. Admittedly, the loss was probably too fresh in our minds, but I was impatient, and I wanted to see if all of you really wanted to keep this guy. There have been several hundred responses to each survey, and I really appreciate everyone taking the time to do this.
The answer is yes, MGoBoard still wants Rich Rodriguez to coach Michigan again in 2011
After the Penn State game (with the assumption of a 7-5 record), I asked if Michigan should retain Rich Rodriguez as head coach.
|Response:||% of responses|
|I'm not sure||11|
After the game this weekend, the responses were not quite as steadfast in their support of Rodriguez, but there is still a clear majority in favor of retaining Rodriguez. Apparently 7-5 looked better five weeks ago than it does now, and the way that the games were won or lost were probably not exactly what most of us had envisioned at that point, although nobody thought that Michigan would beat Wisconsin (88% thought that Michigan would lose) or Ohio State (85%).
|Response:||% of responses|
|I'm not sure||13|
GERG is not as lucky as Rodriguez however. The responses to asking if Michigan should retain Greg Robinson weren't shocking.
Five weeks ago:
|Response:||% of responses|
|I'm not sure||37|
|Response:||% of responses|
|I'm not sure||12|
I think we're pretty clear on this. Needless to say, MGoBoard wants Greg Robinson to resign, retire, or be fired. I think the consensus is that Rich Rodriguez will need to completely overhaul his defensive coaching staff, starting at the top, make a good hire this time, and give the defensive coordinator free reign in personnel, strategic, and recruiting decisions. Greg Robinson has failed here (and it was not entirely his fault), but we're fed up with the performance on defense and we think it's time for a change.
The other four questions that I asked were pretty consistent in their responses, but yet again, there was less of a clear cut majority. Keep in mind that most of the responses in the previous polls were largely given with the assumption that Michigan would not beat Illinois and finish 6-6.
Has Michigan shown enough improvement in Rich Rodriguez's tenure?
|I'm not sure||14|
Can Michigan eventually succeed under Rodriguez?
|I'm not sure||21||18|
Would Michigan be better off with Rodriguez as head coach in 2011 than without?
|I'm not sure||15|
Take a guess: Will Michigan retain Rich Rodriguez as head coach?
|I'm not sure||5||13|
Well, there you have it. I would agree with the majority who want Rodriguez to have another year (personally I think that a coach should have more than three years to build a program and that it's hard to discount the progress that has occurred from 2008 to now), but I understand some of the perspectives of those who wish to have a change in coaching occur because it has been frustrating to seee the team perform so poorly.
A couple of interesting responses from some seemingly irrelevant questions from the earlier survey:
Question #5: If a coaching change is made, should it be done before or after the bowl game?
- Before – 51%
- After – 37%
- I’m not sure – 12%
Question #8: Would Jim Harbaugh be the best candidate if Rodriguez is fired?
- Yes – 48%
- No – 19%
- I’m not sure – 33%
There isn't really correlation between these two and any other of the questions, so there isn't really much to be gained other than just an answer to my curiosity, I suppose. By the way I don't think that this is a place to start a "'Jim Harbaugh is awesome!' 'No he's not!" flamewar (which are kind of annoying anyways)*
There are countless other threads in which to debate the merits of Jim Harbaugh, and I wonder what the response would be now if I asked the same question, but it is irrelevant because as of now, Rich Rodriguez is our coach and devoting so much time debating the merits of a possible replacement coach if he is fired is potentially pointless.
Each week I put together a unofficial blog poll entry and as an analysis piece I like to look at each team's record against winning and losing FBS teams. I thought it would be interesting to take those records at a conference level. I also found out something interesting about Michigan's schedule when compared nationally. First conferences
|Avg# FBS Winning Teams Faced|
Hey, so ah, PAC-10 way to get out there and get after it. Oregon and Stanford combined have only faced 7 winning teams (two of which are each other). The other piece of fun here is the mighty SEC falling below the ACC and Big East.
That's great but what did they conferences do against those schedules?
Win % vs FBS teams with winning recoreds
|Win% vs FBS teams with winning record|
So here the SEC gains some respect back by posting a good overall winning percentage. But I think it's safe to say that Big 12 and Big 10 teams should fair pretty well come bowl time.
Now lets get closer to home since we've arguably established that the Big Ten is a pretty good conference.
Let's see how each Big Ten team did against FBS teams with winning records.
So we see that only three teams played as many or more winning teams than Michigan this season. And look as ol Wiscy down there toughing it out with 5 games against winning competition and yet there they go to the Rose Bowl. So Michigan played one of the toughest Big Ten schedules what about nationally.
Of all 120 teams in the FBS 11 faced as many winning teams and only 2 faced more winning teams than Michigan. And of this group Michigan is tied for 5th for the best winning percentage. With only two teams posting winning records. And holy hell ND. I guess that's the price you pay for being independent.
And finally here is a look at teams with winning records against FBS teams Team Games
Anyway, take that for what it's worth. I just found it interesting at how small the number of teams that post winning records against teams that have winning records (26), that Big Ten looks a lot tougher than I thought and really that Michigan's schedule was as tough as it was. Carry on with the coaching debate.
Let me first say I am not an RR hater. In fact, I wanted him to succeed as badly as anyone, and am appalled at the crap he has had to put up with, and the unwillingness of so many fans to acknowledge that he had so many poorly stocked (not unstocked) cupboards at some many position groups upon his arrival.
That said, I am just as frustrated as anyone else at the current mess.
Fact is, as has been posted elsewhere today, the 2008 and 2009 offenses scored more points in the first halves of Big Ten games than the 2010 offense did. That is incredible. To wit:
|Year||PF, 1st halves vs B10||PA, 1st halves vs B10||M turnovers, 1st halves vs B10|
Stark improvement in the second halves this year, but because by the end of the 3rd quarter in the MSU, Wisc, Iowa, PSU and OSU games most or all the necessary damage had been done, each took its foot partially or completely off the gas in the 4th quarter until (Iowa and PSU) pressed, in which cases both merely got the clinching score needed.
|Year||PF, 2nd halves vs B10||PA, 2nd halves vs B10||M turnovers, 2nd halves vs B10|
Sure, there are myriad ways to interpret these stats. Few of them reflect well on the 2010 team, or RR.
You can never win or lose a game in the first half, but you can come close. A game's dynamic changes completely if a team gets out to a three-score lead.
I've looked at the play-by-plays and drive charts closely for this year's team, and for the 2008 team. And yes this year's team is a yard-gaining machine. The record-holder in M history -- well, or at least as far back as the late 1930s, when official NCAA stats started being kept. Indeed, 500 yards a game is impressive. On paper.
It is far less impressive when so many of those yards are gained between the 20s, or at least don't make it all the way in.
For instance, here is a look at how our first-half drives in Big Ten play (save half-ending kneel-downs) went:
|TDs||FGs||Missed FGs||Punts||Downs||Fumble lost||Interception|
(For those adding up, these TDs and FGs add up to 93; the fumble return vs Purdue brings the number to 100. And one of the first-half turnovers occurred on a KOR vs Wisc, hence the fumbles lost and INTs immediately above add up to 11, not 12).
There were many long first-half drives in Big Ten play that ended badly -- in fumbles, interceptions, on downs, or missed field goals. These mistakes effectively rendered all those yards gained on those drives moot. They're no more helpful to the scoring cause than punt yards. Because, really, when the 08 team kept punting from around its own 40, the other team would get the ball at around its 20 without having been scored on. The only difference with this year's team making so many mistakes in the first half is that the other team would acquire the ball at about the same location on the field, but instead of after a punt, rather after an M turnover, or on downs, or after a missed FG. There is no difference on the scoreboard.
A mistake prone-team renders its gaudy yard totals moot with its mistakes.
23 turnovers (whole game) in Big Ten play last year, and 23 turnovers in Big Ten play this year. That's almost 3 per game.
Ain'ta gonna cut it.
I know this should be on MGoBoard, but my points were stripped.....
Michigan takes home Wolverine-Buckeye challenge trophy for first time, assisted by support from U-M football coach Rich Rodriguez
Ann Arbor, Mich. - U-M racked up a victory over Ohio State this week, signing up more people to the state’s organ donor list and winning the annual Wolverine-Buckeye challenge.
U-M signed up 79,958 donors to Ohio State’s 57,083 in the challenge that ended at midnight on Thanksgiving.
"We all enjoy winning a victory against our rival from Ohio," says Tony Denton, Executive Director of University Hospitals and Chief Operating Officer, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers.
"But the real winners will be the people who rely on these life-saving gifts, organs and tissues that will give thousands of people a second chance at life," Denton says.
Every day, 19 people die while waiting for an organ transplant and another 138 people are added to the national waiting list. The University of Michigan Health System began a new effort this year, dubbed Wolverines For Life, to encourage organ, tissue, eye, blood, and bone marrow donation by U-M employees, patients, students, alumni, fans and everyone in the state of Michigan.
To kick off this effort, U-M Football Coach Rich Rodriguez, along with Health System leaders, encouraged people to join in the annual Wolverine-Buckeye challenge. The challenge allowed people to sign up as organ donors upon their death and have their pledge tallied for their favorite school.
Rodriguez did radio spots and shared his weekly press conference Monday with a 16-year-old transplant recipient, Andrew Majors. Andrew, who is 16 and goes to Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township, Mich., received both a liver and kidney transplant as a baby at the University of Michigan Health System.
Anne Murphy, administrator of the University of Michigan Transplant Center, thanks Coach Rodriguez and the entire football staff for helping promote the annual challenge. This is the first time U-M has won the contest since it began in 2006.
"Organ donation saves lives. Anybody can sign up to be an organ donor. We hope this win will continue to draw awareness to the importance of signing your state’s donor registry to make sure your decision is respected after your death," Murphy says.
"We will be thrilled to accept and display the Wolverine-Buckeye challenge trophy for the next year."
The U-M leaders emphasize that after signing up as donors, every U-M fan should tell family members or other loved ones they have done so.
U-M co-sponsors the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge with Gift of Life Michigan, which is the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization. You can still sign up on the state’s donor registry at www.giftoflifemichigan.org. Gift of Life Michigan, in collaboration with the Michigan Eye-Bank, provides all services necessary for organ, tissue and eye donation.
U-M has one of the oldest and largest transplantation programs in the country and U-M surgeons perform transplants of hearts, lungs, pancreases, livers, kidneys, and corneas. About 400 to 450 transplants are done at U-M annually, mostly kidney transplants followed by liver, heart, lung and pancreas.